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Clinics & Doctors Fight|Louisiana Abortion Law

BATON ROUGE (CN) - Louisiana unconstitutionally restricts abortions, in a law to take effect Sept. 1, by requiring doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, three of the state's five clinics that perform abortions claim in a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit tracks similar complaints that have been filed against Mississippi and Texas.

In Louisiana on Friday, two John Doe doctors joined the three medical clinics in a constitutional complaint against Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell, Medical Director of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Jimmy Guidry, and the state Board of Medical Examiners President Mark Henry Dawson.

As in Mississippi and Texas, the clinics claim that the laws, ostensibly passed to protect women's health, are actually unconstitutional attempts to criminalize abortion.

Lead plaintiff Hope Medical Group for Woman et al. challenge Louisiana House Bill 388, which Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law in June.

"The Act requires that every doctor who provides abortions have active admitting privileges at a hospital not more than thirty miles from where the abortion is performed, and gives doctors a mere eighty-one days to comply, an impossible task in light of the fact that the hospitals within the area proscribed by the statute can take anywhere from 90 days to seven months to decide on a doctor's privileges application," the complaint states.

"Despite this and other obstacles, each doctor who does not currently have such privileges at Clinic Plaintiffs has submitted at least one application at a hospital within thirty miles of the clinic.

"Upon information and belief, if the statute is enforced on its effective date of September 1, 2014, it is not at all clear that any doctor currently providing abortions at a clinic in Louisiana will be able to continue providing those services, thereby eliminating access to legal abortion in Louisiana.

"As such, the admitting privileges requirement threatens irreparable injury to the Clinic Plaintiffs, their staff, and their patients, including, but not limited to, by depriving plaintiff's patients' of their constitutional right to an abortion.

"Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief from these constitutional deprivations."

The plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment that the law deprives them of procedural and substantive due process, and an injunction against its enforcement.

Their lead counsel is Rittenberg, Samuel and Phillips.

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